Posters stuck to every surface around campus: ‘Refugee crisis – open the borders’. It is a talk by the Socialist Workers, and I am interested in hearing the argument, who attends and how they respond. I sit near the back, where I can scribble notes inconspicuously. Having braced myself for an hour of ideological provocation, I find a sparsely populated event that would change few minds. Yet it also emphasised the lateness of the hour for social conservatives to rescue our country from emerging strife.
Twenty three attended, mostly white middle-class, some being members of the students’ socialist society. Jane Kelly of this website observes that the hard Left is disproportionately drawing young women, and here they outnumbered the four males. The speaker, Mark Thomas, sits at a desk festooned with flyers for demonstrations against Islamophobia. Introducing himself as an anti-racist, Thomas begins his delivery. It is a breathless monologue for twenty minutes, unscripted and zealously forthright. Much of the argument is within reason, and the need to solve the refugee problem is undeniable. He takes no prisoners in his assault on the powers-that-be and the nasty elements of society: Blairite Labour MPs, the Daily Mail, the toxic atmosphere of the EU vote, the Royal Navy (for ‘blockading the Mediterranean’), Trump’s rhetoric, and the horrific response by governments across Europe. Shame on them. Simultaneously, Jeremy Corbyn is closing the Labour Party conference with a compassionate message: we have responsibility for the poor and displaced, and there should be no limits to who comes to our shores.
Time for questions. Silence, so I go first. ‘Surveys consistently show upwards of 70 per cent of the British public are concerned by uncontrolled immigration. Obviously you don’t agree with them, but would you ever see a level as too high – what if 1 million come per year, or 5 million?’ Before the speaker answers, further questions are sought, and I am surprised to find doubts similar to mine. A German student explains that integration is becoming impossible in her county – the number is overwhelming. An Indian man remarks that Britain is understandably more welcoming to some countries than others – India is fine, but Pakistan is ‘backward’.
This is not going well for the organisers, so society members take over, stridently rebutting the points made by us lesser mortals. The Jungle in Calais has two thousand unaccompanied children, who have made a dangerous crossing through many countries to get there. Asking why fleeing refugees, rather than claiming asylum in the first safe country, continue their expedition unnecessarily, I am told that these people have a right to live in Britain. Troubled by comments about nationhood, a white English woman dismisses the concept of patriotism as contrived identity, manipulated by governments. She does not feel British – she is part of an international family.
Then Thomas gets into his stride. He starts on patriotism - what is Britishness? There is no reason to be proud of a vile imperial past, or of a country that arms itself with nuclear weapons while failing to build houses. Despite his Thames estuary accent, he identifies himself as Irish (‘one of 7.4 million; we take your jobs and do them very well.’) The Left ironically abhors British pride, but attaches itself to the assumed virtue of other nations. My initial question is not directly answered, but unmistakably the speaker would let them all come. The explanation for this is in the underlying motives of the hard Left, which has now hijacked the Labour Party.
Astute readers of this website excepted, the likes of Thomas are naively underestimated. They display compassion for the vulnerable, and therefore, however unrealistic their policies, must be well-meaning. But Thomas revealed the real drive of his political fervour: nothing less than revolution. To the far Left, every crisis is an opportunity to bring down the established order. It did not happen after the global economic shock of 2008, but the migrant crisis presents much greater prospects of destruction. Immigrant masses are the storm-troopers, and no bullets need be fired for the system to be overturned. Meanwhile, the danger of terrorism is cast as a racist trope. Thomas condemned the Prevent scheme, which the National Union of Students has persistently misrepresented as oppression of Muslims, with their slogan ‘students not suspects’ and crass denials of ‘so-called Islamic extremism’ (meanwhile, the NUS promotes compulsory sex consent workshops that portray all male students as potential rapists).
With the dramatic pace of demographic change, perhaps Thomas and the Corbynistas are winning the war. So what if Labour are behind in the polls? The conservative mainstream is steadily being overcome by the combined force of the incoming masses and a surge of radical socialism in the younger generation. To them, British culture is boring and bigoted. It is not an exaggeration to attribute the mission of Momentum, the Socialist Workers Party and their ilk to an intense loathing of their country and its traditions. This is the real hate crime.
(Image: Funk Dooby)